Montreal’s bona fide alt-country balladeers, The Jimmyriggers, are bringing their signature reverb-drenched twang for two back-to-back weekend shows in Wakefield and Ottawa.
The Jimmyriggers’, veterans of the Montreal rock-root music scene, pick up the broken pieces of country music and put them back together with the glue of rock and roll, crafting clever songs with engaging arrangements and unique sound that flow seamlessly between light and dark, despair and redemption. Think Tragically Hip meets the Blue Rodeo meets The Avett Brothers.
The Jimmyriggers are: bass player David Pearce, guitarist Andre Kirchhoff, drummer Lewis Handford, and guitarist Kevin Moquin.
The Jimmyriggers acclaimed sophomore release, “I Stand in the Weeds” brings the listener on a rich and varied musical journey. Recorded at Montreal’s Fast Forward Studios and in the band’s own rehearsal space with producer and multi-instrumentalist Mark Goodwin, veteran rock drummer R.D. Harris, and stalwart session men Rick Haworth and Eric LeMoyne, the twelve original tracks on “I Stand in the Weeds” also includes a Flying Burrito Brothers-esque take on the Rolling Stones’ tune “Connection”.
You can check their new album on Bandcamp.com
The Jimmyriggers have appeared at numerous events including the Fringe Festival, the Montreal Folk Festival on the Canal, and BOBFEST, a Bob Dylan 70th Birthday Tribute. Recently the band won the CHOM-FM Rock N’ Bull Rodeo Video contest, earning the opportunity to open for legendary American rock band Creedence Clearwater Revisited at Stade Uniprix. The Jimmyriggers have also taken their music on the road, with successful tours of Ontario and the Maritimes, and appearances at Canadian Music Week.
The Jimmyriggers play a full-tilt three set night at Wakefield’s Kaffe 1870 on Saturday, October 20th and share the stage in a roots rock triple bill with Phantom Shores and The Backyard Devils at the Elmdale House Tavern on Saturday, October 27th.
At first glance Tyler could be just another Canadian teen with a penchant for music and love for the ladies, but looking deeper yields surprising insight into this young entertainer. I sat down for a chat with Tyler during his stop in Ottawa for the Big Time Summer tour, and discussed his digital release, his career and impressive work with World Vision Canada. Later, Tyler hit the stage at Scotia Bank Place and taught everyone in attendance a lesson in showmanship.
Welcome back to Ottawa! How has the tour been so far?
I’m very excited to be in Ottawa again, I have a great fan base here and Ottawa is like my second home! I actually have some original members from my label that are here, and since I don’t get to see them that often this a treat.
Tell me more about your new digital release that dropped on September 7th
It’s available only on itunes right now, and it may also soon be available at my online store. This is actually an EP, so it’s really just to satisfy my fans until I can release my next full album and be happy with it. I don’t want my fans to think I have forgotten about them. That to me is really important because I want my next album to be 100% and so until that happens this will keep the fans excited. I try to bring something special to my lyrics and connect with my fans and I really enjoy the material I worked on for this EP.
Your big hit #QTEES is blowing up right now! What was your goal with this single?
I was actually in Miami at FloRida Studios when I was putting together this song. I love my fans so much, and wanted to connect with them and give them a song showing how much I appreciate having them. They’re always coming out and supporting me so it’s like a tribute. As for the name, I call all my fans “Qtee’s” and wanted this song to reflect what I’m always telling them at my shows. My fans are a big inspiration so the song came easy to me since I was making music about what I know.
Summer is almost over so what comes after this tour?
Working on the album for sure, down the road. Immediately after this tour, I’ll be heading to Sri Lanka and the Philippines with World Vision. I sponsored a child from Sri Lanka, and I’m trying to get others involved as well and raise awareness, hopefully others will sponsor a child too. It’s important to give what you can and I definitely respond to those in need. This organization is doing good things, and I’m excited for that tour as well.
Tyler started off his set with “Say I Love You” and faded into “#QTEES” which had no shortage of show-stopping choreography to match the lively lyrics. The deafening screams of fans in the front row added an extra air of excitement as Tyler began to break into “Favorite Girl” moving in time with his dancers to the new track that is just breaking out off of his TM release.
Flips and thrilling acrobatics were in full force onstage as well as Tyler’s trademark shirt lift for all the ladies looking to sneak a peek at his abs. At one point Tyler laid on the floor of the stage and then flipped up and over onto his feet while signing. It was clear during his performance of the international hit “Girlfriend”, that Tyler works very hard and has perfected the art of showmanship as his voice was heard unaltered and yet still strong during his dance set. A welcome and pleasant surprise for many of the older fans toward the end of the show when Tyler covered “Step by Step” originally performed by New Kids on The Block. His take on the song was youthful with a modern edge, courtesy of his DJ accompaniment. Overall, Tyler’s performance was not only entertaining but clean and strong from start to finish. Many concert-goers and parents alike frequently noted on Tyler’s honed effortless and confident stage presence which belies his charming 17 year-old exterior.
Liz Reid (Strut Entertainment)
Photo Credit: CP records
Mark Martyre is a Toronto singer/songwriter/poet/musician who describes his music as a perfect fit for “cafes or house concerts”. His gritty style instantly has you thinking Dylan and Cohen…some even have thrown the name Springsteen into that ‘who does he remind you of’ mix.
Mark has been making music, and writing for years. He published two books of poetry and prose “Wondering Down the Road” (2008) and “Drifting Magentically” (2009), and had some of his works published in arts and culture magazines.
After a busy 2011 of playing shows throughout Ontario, Mark has kicked off 2012 with release of a box set. Handmade out of wood, this unique box certainly stands out and has already made an impression on those who’ve eagerly picked up a copy. The box set contains six live bootleg CDs, recorded at shows in 2011, as well as photos, and other liner notes. Each box set is signed by Mark, and comes with a pin.
Mark has been engaging audiences with his lyrics and introspective songs, and his live performances have also garnered attention and praise from other notable songwriters such as Stephen Stanley, and Peter Katz, who said that Mark has, “fantastic lyrics,” and that, “he clearly has a really warm soul and a passion for writing and music.”
For more information about Mark or about his Live 2011 Box Set, please visit www.markmartyre.com
AUGUST 26 - SUNDAY MATINEE
Rebas Cafe & Gallery, Toronto
Habits Gastropub, Toronto
Connie Bernardi plays the role of radio announcer on Majic 100 in Ottawa, full time music blogger and seeker of new music. Latest and greatest bragging right…a Canadian singer/songwriter by the name of James Struthers wrote a song about me. True story.
It happens every year at the Ottawa Fringe Festival, for many reasons some shows fall below the radar and are not as talked about as much as others early on. Usually by this point (with 3 days left to go), word has gotten out that these productions are very much worth seeing.
Here are a few of these below the radar shows:
White Noise: Created by Margaret Evraire and Christina Bryson, White Noise tells the story of Nadia Kajouji, a carleton university student who committed suicide in 2008. The play is largely a movement piece and recounts the last days of Nadia’s life. Originally I was going to give this production a pass. Plays based on relatively recent true life events can be very challenging to handle with appropriate sensitivity. The buzz in the beer tent, however, was positive so I decided to go. I’m glad I did.
After the performance ended, the audience (myself included) was very slow get up and leave the theatre; obviously very moved by the play. I was also very impressed by the sophisticated staging and sound design. Make sure you see this one!
Gametes and Gonads: This one man show created, by Jeff Laird, is a high energy whirlwind of a show in which he takes on a multitude of characters (seriously there are like a couple million sperm alone!). Laird skillfully handles all these roles and the show never loses its coherence. Gametes and Gonads is billed as Star Wars meets your genitals. It’s clever and fun. The last show is at 11:00 p.m on Saturday (June 23). Go see it!
Trashman’s Dilemma: Set in a dystopian future this play by (Bruce Gooch) delves into complicated themes revolving around language. Can agency/freedom exist without the words to express it? As an interesting twist, the three member cast rotates the roles for each performance. The last chance to catch this show is 3:00 p.m. on Saturday (June 23)!
There are only three days left in the festival! If you haven’t done so already, buy a fringe pin ($3) and check out a play(s) for ($10/ticket).
The 2012 Fringe festival is well under way. This is definitely my favourite festival of the year. It’s a chance to see some great theatre, dance, and story telling at a bargain price. It’s also an opportunity to meet new friends, catch up with old ones, and drink plenty of beer outside under the open sky! What could be better?
This year, I intend to see approximately 30 shows and I will tell you about my adventures over a series of three articles featuring brief postcard reviews.
At Fringe, I spend a lot of time in the beer tent and this year is no exception. As a reviewer, I get asked this question a lot: “What are your top picks for the festival so far?”
While I haven’t seen everything everything yet (I’ve attended 11 shows so far), here are two must see shows:
1. Little Orange Man- This is a brilliantly whimsical one woman show, created by Ingrid Hansen and Kathleen Greenfield. It’s about Kitt, a high energy 12 year old girl who likes to recount folk tales told by her Danish grandfather. Kitt uses puppets in variety of different forms, some of them are even made out of her lunch, to tell her stories. It’s a really special show. Go see it! I recommend getting there early and sitting as close to the front as you can since the sight lines in her venue, St. Paul’s Eastern United Church, aren’t the best.
2. Heterollectual: Love and Other Dumb Ideas - This is a contemporary dance piece by an emerging Toronto dance company (Pollux Dance). Artistic Director Leslie Glen describes her show this way “It makes fun of love; it exposes sadness; it impersonates the irrational ways in which human beings behave.” It’s a special treat to be be able to see such a talented group of dancers for $10. I was impressed by this company’s athletic ability, grace, and skill.
Another show I really enjoyed, but that won’t have as broad appeal as the two shows mentioned previously, Is Garkin productions’ Lonely Bear. Written by Ray Besharah, this one is dark, quirky, with a sense of humour. Smart, sharp, eccentric writing. Very much worth seeing.
So there are three shows to get you started.
Check out ottawafringe.com to read about the rest of the shows featured in this year’s festival.
Thursday, May 24, was the opening night for the GCTC’s production of Annie Baker’s Circle Mirror Transformation at the Irving Greenberg Theatre. Baker’s script has received high praise from critics and won an OBIE award for best new American play in 2010. I was curious to see what all the fuss was about so I set off on opening night to check it out.
Baker’s play takes place in the small town of Shirley,Vermont, at a creative drama class for adults. Those who have ever played drama games, will be able to get the jokes where Baker pokes fun at these exercises. Many will be also able to relate with one character’s frustration when she asks “are we ever going to do any real acting?”
The play unfolds in short quick scenes that span a five week run of classes. Over this period, many details are revealed about the characters lives. Unfortunately, in Baker’s script these revelatory moments are for the most part fairly banal and the narrative unfolds in a very predictable fashion. Even when Baker attempts to deal with a very serious issue (sexual abuse), it is handled in such an offhanded manner that it trivializes rather than explores the issue. I was very disappointed in the script and its trajectory. Baker has very little to offer her audience and after awhile the drama game gags wear a little thin. I found the whole thing two dimensional and rather trivial, but it had a few funny moments.
That being said, I was particularly impressed with the performance of Catherine Rainville (Lauren) and I look forward to seeing more of this talented actress in future. Sarah Mcvie (Theresa) had some fine moments as well.
For more information on performance times for Circle Mirror Transformation click here.
“Besides being incredibly musically inclined, he has a set of pipes on him that may just blow you out of the water.” – ThisBonusTrack
“The amount of polish he brings to intricately arranged piano jams is impressive.” – Herohill
Montreal’s Ben Wilkins is in town performing on Wednesday night in support of his self-titled debut album. Ben’s music is a piano-driven pop sound that flashes back to the sounds of the early 70s (think Elton John, Burt Bacharach and Billy Joel vibe). He’s soaked up that era and it’s rhythm, textures and grooves and skillfully turned into something uniquely his own (OK maybe there’s a slight comparison to Ben Folds…just a little).
His lyrics are slightly quirky and that mixed in with a familiar pop piano sound…his is a music that draws you in and just makes you feel good. And happy.
If you qualify yourself as a music lover of any kind, you’ll want to check him out.
Ben was born and raised in Ontario and then moved to Montreal to study music at McGill and has composed string arrangements for several artists including Bran Van 3000 and Misstress Barbara.
Wednesday, May 9th @ Zaphod’s
Review by Carole Anne Piccinin
Revivals can be tricky things.
West Side Story débuted on Broadway in 1957. It was the way Leonard Berstein’s intricate musical score and Gerome Robbins’ groundbreaking choreography encapsulated hipness, coolness, conflict, angst and passion that made West Side Story the musical landmark that it is.
As a modern day “Romeo and Juliette” tale, it was not the content, but theatrical style and form that made West Side Story a masterpiece.
Running until March 18 at the National Arts Centre, Broadway Across Canada’s production of West Side Story overall is enjoyable. The production is beautifully lit, and sets appealing enough to satisfy even the video-game culture audience. The orchestra was solid, and the leads Ross Lekites and Evy Ortiz were convincing as the young lovers Tony and Maria. But the poor connection too many of the triple-threat cast members made to the epic stylistic form keeps this revival out of the range of spectacular. It’s “West Side Story: Whitewashed”.
For this iconic piece of musical theater to work – really work – it has to start with great dancing.
The performances, especially by the skilled male dancers, were too uneven and often lack-luster. Missing from “Cool” and “Jet Song” was their consistent believable and synchronized connection to Robbins’ omnipresent, on-the-edge-of-exploding pubescent tension.
With the exceptions of Jon Drake and German Santiago, who handily played Action and Bernardo respectively, the Jets and Sharks gangs had little street credibility. The cast of would-be punks seemed a little too Glee Club-esq. In spite of a beautiful costume palette, as evidenced in the “Dance at the Gym” scene, the Gap and Tip-Top Tailors looking garb did little to support their performances as misguided youth in jeopardy. They looked like they earned their muscular physique at fitness centres rather than from street rumbles.
Michelle Aravena, whose sassy portrayal of Anita, hit the mark and paid homage to greats like Debbie Allen and Rita Moreno who played this role before her. Though the vocal harmonies of “America” blended well, as a female ensemble, the women were not entirely convincing due to lacking vivaciousness, spunk and flamboyance from certain performers. “I Feel Pretty” and “Somewhere” however were effective; the cast gelled vocally and emotionally and were well-rehearsed to deliver the goods.
Overall the intention and interpretation of the Robbins’ movement and characterizations seemed somewhat lost on director David Saint and choreographer Joey McKneely, and consequently on this generation of SYTYCD-era dancers. Were there casting errors? Or, more detrimentally, did poor direction prevail?
What I can tell you is that a number of people from this production need to sit in a room and spend a good deal of time watching a West Side Story collector’s edition DVD, and call me in the morning.
West Side Story runs March 13-18, 2012 at the National Arts Centre. 8PM Curtain.
For tickets call 1-888-991-2787 (ARTS) or visit the NAC Box Office
Carole Anne is a dancer-about-town, with a penchant for rhythm tap and musical theatre. She is the founder of the Ottawa Rhythm Initiative and connects tappers with other rhythm and music-makers at every given turn. Contact her at the email@example.com
Formerly EX~PO, the band renamed themselves Papermaps in the autumn of 2010. Their music blends elements of indie rock, art rock, experimental, shoegaze and electronica while maintaining strong pop sensibilities. The band is often compared to acts like the Shins, Spoon, Radiohead and MGMT.
Papermaps rehearses, writes and records out of Dean’s studio, Chemical Sound, which is known for its warm and spacious atmosphere as well as a massive collection of vintage gear. Dean has played host to bands such as the Black Keys, Sharon Jones and the Dapkings, Tokyo Police Club, Born Ruffians, Sweet Thing, C’mon and many more.
The debut full-length album, “Papermaps” was released in 2011 (Sparks/EMI). On October 19th 2011, Papermaps performed in New York as part of the annual Canadian Blast! Showcase at the CMJ Music Marathon. The band then travelled to Halifax to perform as part of the 2011 Halifax Pop Explosion.
The sound is that 80s throwback vibe that I love…and I instantly got hooked on their track ‘Complicate Things’ (the follow-up to Papermap’s first single and band-made video “Reunion”)